Ray is 2 months and 2 days old today. Hurrah to the li’l boy who has completely stolen my heart. It’s amazing how Pips and I can immediately love this little boy, who technically is a strange, foreign face when he was born. Guess the bonding and love started even before he was born 🙂
Ray when he was a newborn, a day old or two.
Ray when he was a few weeks old, and still relatively skinny haha. Li’l munchkins is quite the li’l fatty now!
Ray at a few weeks old. On the way back to NUH for a checkup
See how the lovable rascal has grown in less than 2 months!
Anyway, the purpose of this post today is to share my experience as a first time mom giving birth, and to share tips and advice that will help others (and remind myself) prior to giving birth. I’m going to write in a straight-off-the-bat style, and what I write is only limited to my own experience giving birth at NUH.
- My mucus plug came out at about 5pm on 15 December, 2013. From what I read, this can be a sign that labour is imminent or near, or it can be about 2 weeks later that you’ll give birth. In any case, when you experience mucus plug, be prepared! You may start experiencing contractions in the next few days!
* Mucus Plug, aka Bloody Show or Show is a vaginal discharge tinged with blood. It can be dark brown or pinkish in colour, a sorta jelly like consistency to it. Mine was the colour of normal vaginal discharge tinged with fresh blood streaks.
- Monitor the regularity of your contractions and the Pain Intensity: In my previous post, I mentioned that I had pretty regular contractions (30 secs of pain every 5 mins) in the morning of 16 Dec 2013. This is a sign of early contractions and you should monitor the frequency. On a pain scale, it was about 5/10 or 6/10 thereabouts. I could still do my own thing like blogging, facebooking etc.If you can still go about your daily chores, you are still fine. Labour is not knocking on your door just yet, but most likely, it is very near!
- Call the labour ward or the number that your obstetrician has given you when you experience early labour: Calling the labour ward will set your mind at ease. Before you call them though, make sure that you have monitored the regularity of the contractions, and mentally gauged how intense the pain is, on a scale of 1-10. Given that you may not have experienced labour pain before (like me), you may wish to compare it to menstrual cramps or stomach flu/gastric pains etc. When I described the initial pain to Boo, she said it seemed like her experience when having menstrual cramps, so that’s a rough gauge for you ladies. When the pain gets consistently worse, do call your labour ward again to keep them updated and to set your mind at ease. I think I called the labour ward thrice that day.TIMELINE LEADING UP TO LABOUR: A timeline of my experience in brief below:
- 1) 15 Dec 2013, 5pm: Mucus Plug
2) 15 Dec night, bedtime: Experienced abit of contractions, but still able to sleep
3) 16 Dec, 7am: Woke up with stomach contractions. Regularity of 30secs pain every 5mins
4) 16 Dec, 2/3pm: Headed to United Square with Pips to purchase a breast pump tube (Medela)
5) 16 Dec, 5pm: Checked into NUH Labour Ward for them to monitor my contractions and baby’s heartbeat. Contractions are fairly regular, 30 secs every 4/5mins, and pain is more intense than in the morning, at about 7/10. Cervix is only 1cm dilated, and labour may be a few hours away, or a few days. In-house Doctor does a cervix membrane sweep (supposed to quicken or kickstart the labour process). My obstetrician, the gentle Dr Roy Ng, instructed the doctors to keep me warded as my contractions were fairly regular, and also because I have Strep B virus. I am sent out of the labour ward to a normal ward as I am not in labour just yet.
6) 16 Dec, 10pm: Pips and I are pushed to a 4 bedder ward as there are no single bedders available. In-house doctor does a cervix check again, and I am only 1cm dilated still. Pain is getting progressively worse. 8/10 to 9/10. I tell Pips to go home first as he can’t stay overnight in the 4 bedder ward. Labour may be a few days away (The medical professionals and everyone else tell me that first time labour is usually quite long). Pips stayed with me till 11pm when I shooed him home, assuring him that I am fine
6) 16 Dec, 11pm – 2am: I am in PAIN, I am in absolute AGONY, and I am whining piteously to myself. I wanted to wait for my cervix to dilate to 3cm so that I can be given epidural immediately instead of taking an additional form of painkiller (Laughing gas). But the pain proved too great and I cave in. I am thereafter, wheeled to the labour ward.
7) 16 Dec, 2plus am: I am given gas, while being monitored for my contractions, and baby’s heartbeat. The nurse checks my cervix again, and I am suddenly at 3 – 4cm. No wonder. The pain’s a real bitch. I call Pips and he is flying over in his car. Labour has begun!Hope the above timeline is useful in helping you to gauge your own labour process.In my next entry, I will talk about the labour process and tips to manage the whole labour better, as well as the brands of items to buy that I find good. Below are some information regarding pre-labour, such as what you need to pack in your hospital bag, and items that you need to have ready, before you give birth.
STREP B VIRUS/WATER BAG BURSTING
- Water Bag burst, how quickly to check into the hospital? Many people have told me that when your water bag bursts, there is no need for you to check into the hospital right away. You can still take a warm shower and get yourself clean and ready for the next stage in your life, and leisurely make your way to the hospital. Be calm, don’t rush. Make sure you have your hospital bag ready with you to take to the hospital, and do take a clean towel with you to absorb the leaking or gushing water so you don’t dirty the car seat/interior. Call the labour ward and inform them, so that they can prepare a room for you in advance, and you can go directly into the room to be checked, and to give birth if labour is imminent.
- STREP B virus: Taking a leisurely bath before checking into the hospital when my water bag burst was exactly my plan, but it was discovered during a routine check at abt 36/37 weeks that I have the strep B virus for this pregnancy (harmless to moms, can be harmful to baby when you have a natural delivery. Baby can contract chest infections etc) I was very worried initially, but this virus is pretty common, and it comes and goes, which means that you may have strep B virus for pregnancy 1, but may not have it for pregnancy 2. In any case, should you have strep B virus and your water bag bursts, please check into the hospital IMMEDIATELY, because you need to have at least 4 hours of penicillin coursing through you before your baby comes out, so that the baby is well protected against the virus before he is delivered.
For Baby Ray, my labour progressed very quickly (2 hours plus!) and he did not get the full 4 hours protection. Thus, he had to get 4 injections spread out in the next 48 hours after he was born.
- What does your hospital provide?: Your hospital would have given you a checklist of what to pack in the hospital bag, so do use that as a guide. I was checked into Coral Suite, a private room with ensuite bathroom and living room at NUH, and the hospital provided the following (I think generally, hospitals should be providing roughly the same items):
a) Clothes for me during my stay in hospital
b) Clothes and blanket for baby Ray during his stay in hospital
c) Baby Wipes (Pigeon) for baby Ray
d) Diapers (One pack of Huggies) for baby Ray
e)Formula Milk for the baby if you are not breastfeeding
f) Toothbrush and toothpaste
g) Meals were provided for me
h) Sanitary Pad (Kotex, no wings) and Maternity Pad for me
i) Soap and shampoo, and towels (you can request for an additional one for your hubby if he is staying over)
j) Pillow and blanket for your hubby if he is staying over
- Additional items you should pack in your hospital bag: Pips stayed with me and Baby Ray throughout our stay in hospital, so we had to pack extra items for Daddy Pips. Other than the guide, you should pack the following:
a) Clothes for Daddy throughout his stay in the hospital.
b) Clothes for Mommy for the day she leaves the hospital
c) Clothes for Baby for the day he leaves the hospital
d) Blanket or Wrap for Baby for the day he leaves the hospital so that he’ll be warm
e) 2 pairs of Mittens for Baby as his fingernails will be long, and you don’t want him scratching himself.
f) Booties and hat for Baby to keep him warm when he leaves the hospital
g) Facial wash and body foam/shampoo if you do not wish to use the ones provided by the hospital
h) Breastpump (They will teach you how to use the breastpump. They also provided a steriliser for use during my stay in hospital)
i) Bottles to store your breastmilk or colostrum (not a lot is needed during those early days. One or two small bottles is enough and will be especially useful if your child has jaundice, as the nurses can give it to your baby for top up feeds. If you do not have any, you can ask your hospital to see if they have any bottles that you can use)
j) Important documents such as NRIC
k) Cordblood banking items if you opted for it
l) Clean towel in case your water bag bursts
- Other items you need in the hospital:
a) Your hubby needs to buy his own meals
TIPS AND THINGS TO BUY: (PRE-LABOUR)
- SHAVE/BRAZILIAN WAX: When you are doing a natural birth, you don’t want to have all that hair in the way. It’s gonna get messy. It will trap gunk (Ewww). Enough said, you’ll thank me for this.
- Get a haircut: After giving birth, you’ll be too shacked or will simply have no time to get a haircut. So do it now.
- Buy Disposable underwear in advance. Lots of them: Post-delivery, you’re gonna be bleeding for about 4-8wks on average, as if you were menstruating. This is known as lochia. You’re gonna be extremely tired from giving birth, and taking care of your baby, and disposable underwear is just perfect. Excess can be used for when you go on holidays
- Buy breast pads in advance: In the first few days post delivery, a lack of disposable breast pads is not that much of a problem as you’re producing colostrum, which is small in amount but big in nutrition for your babe. However, when your mature milk comes in, and your milk production cranks up and goes into overdrive, you’re gonna need those disposable breast pads desperately. For environmentally-friendly people, there are also rewashable breast pads.
- Buy 1 Nursing Bra or Maximum, 2: Do not buy too many nursing bras before giving birth. This is because your boob size may increase even further after giving birth. During my pregnancy and post-delivery, my cup size increased by 3, 1 during early-mid pregnancy, 1 during mid-late pregnancy, and 1 post-delivery. Wearing an ill-fitting bra size may lead to mastitis (Breast infection), so be sure to be comfortable in your bra. When your milk production comes in, your boobs will likely be that size throughout the time you’re breastfeeding, so that will be the size of the nursing bras that you can buy. I would recommend a sleeping nursing bra, which is super comfortable to wear and nurse your child when you’re home.
- Buy a few nursing clothes: I am a supporter of the breastfeeding movement, and having a few nursing clothes at hand will help you to feed your baby more easily, especially when you head outdoors.
- Mattress Protector/Diaper Changing Table: If you are changing baby’s diapers on your bed, I highly recommend a mattress protector because baby WILL dirty your bed. Ray has had explosive poop which literally shot out of his butt, and his pee has sprayed in all directions.
- Nipple Cream: In the first few days/weeks of breastfeeding, you and your baby both are learning the art of it, and the journey is usually tough at the start. Apply the nipple cream after breastfeeding or when your nipples are starting to feel sore. You can express abit of breastmilk on your nipples, let it dry, before applying the cream. Be liberal with the usage. Once you and your baby get the hang of breastfeeding, you won’t need the nipple cream at all.
- Essential Items you’ll need for your baby:
a) Diapers: Pips and I bought 2 packs of newborn diapers (90pcs x2) for Baby Ray and it didn’t even last us two months. As Baby Ray is exclusively breastfed, he goes through diapers like nobody’s business.
b) Diaper Rash Cream: A smooth baby’s bottom will soon become a myth if you do not take care of your babe’s sensitive butt. A baby’s skin is 6 times thinner than that of an adult’s, and is hence, extremely sensitive. A diaper rash cream will help you to prevent angry, red rashes from surfacing on baby’s bottom, and if rashes do appear, to treat it.
c) Bibs: When your milk production comes in, bibs will be extremely useful in preventing milk from dribbling all over baby’s clothes.
d) Small Handkerchiefs: This will be supremely handy as it serves a few purposes: As a washcloth to clean baby’s mouth and tongue, washcloth for bathing, handkerchief to wipe baby’s mouth after drinking and other misc uses.
e) Mittens: Mittens are extremely important to prevent your baby from scratching his face, even if you do trim his nails. Booties/Socks are not as important, but good to have when you head to air-conditioned places.
f) Baby Nail Clipper or Small, normal Nail Clipper: I tried using both a baby nail clipper and a normal one, and in fact, prefer the latter because it allows me to trim baby’s nails more cleanly. I find that the baby nail clipper prevents me from trimming too deeply, and as such, I always find that Ray’s nails are still long even after I trim it. In the end, I reckon that I have to spend twice as much time to trim it short and proper, which takes up alot of time, and is harder to achieve as baby grows bigger and more active.
g) Diaper Changing Mat: Extremely essential. Would be good to have a spare in case baby dirties one, and you have to clean and dry it.
h) Swaddle: Initially, I was against the idea of swaddling as I read articles that warned of hip dysplasia in babies due to swaddling. However, Ray didn’t sleep too well without being swaddled and would only catnap throughout the day initially. Concerned that he was not getting the deep sleep that he needed in order to grow and learn, we swaddled him and he really sleeps better when he is swaddled, as it is more difficult for him to stretch himself awake now.
i) Clothes Hanger:
A clothes hanger that looks like the above pic will be extremely useful in drying baby’s items such as mittens, booties, hats, handkerchiefs etc. Trust me, baby will be going through alot of clothes changes etc.
j) Baby Wipes: Considering how often your baby will poop, you’ll need quite a bit of it.
The above is just about what I can remember, hope it helps you! In the next post, I will be writing about my experience with the different brands, e.g. diaper brands etc, and which ones I like. May help you with your decision making process! Will also talk about the labour process too, how to manage the pain etc.
Good luck for your pregnancy and labour!
Breastfeeding, cervix dilation, contractions, Coral Suite, Deluxe Suite NUH, Dr Roy Ng, Epidural, featured, Giving Birth, gynae, hospital bag, laughing gas, mucus plug, Natural Birth, New Mom, New parents, NUH, obstetrician, pigeon, pregnancy, stomach cramps, strep b virus, Vaginal Birth, water bag